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Champions Greece lead parade of group leaders

Category:[world] [Sports] [Soccer]

LONDON, June 6 - European champions Greece together with other group leaders France, Germany and Romania all moved closer to a place in next year's European Championship finals with end-of-season wins on Wednesday.

With a year and a day to go before the Euro 2008 finals begin in Austria and Switzerland, Greece beat Moldova 2-1 in Iraklion, France beat Georgia 1-0 in Auxerre, Germany beat Slovakia 2-1 in Hamburg and Romania beat Slovenia 2-0 in Timisoara.

There was no joy for Poland however, who stayed five points clear at the top of Group A after a shock 1-0 defeat at lowly Armenia whose Scottish boss Ian Porterfield described the victory as one of the biggest in the country's history.

Croatia, the leaders in Group E, also failed to pick up maximum points when they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Russia, allowing Israel, who won 2-0 in Andorra, to pull level with them at the top of the group on 17 points.

There was a change at the top of Group F with Northern Ireland, who were without a game, slipping back to third as Sweden, who beat Iceland 5-0, moved into first place.

Spain, who won 2-0 in Liechtenstein, moved into second place. Sweden currently have 16 points, one more than Spain, but their points tally could change after UEFA decides on Friday how to allocate the points from Denmark's abandoned 3-3 draw with Sweden on Saturday.

BECKHAM SHINES

Although they are not among the group leaders, beleaguered England scored a 3-0 win over Estonia in Tallinn to keep their chances alive with David Beckham marking his return to competitive football for the first time since the World Cup by setting up two of the goals.

World champions Italy also maintained their push for the finals with an impressive 2-0 win in Lithuania with Fabio Quagliarella scoring two fine goals in his first start for his country.

Armenia's 1-0 win over Poland was the biggest shock of the night with Hamlet Mkhitaryan scoring the only goal of the Group A match in Yerevan with a 70th-minute free kick.

Poland, who with Ukraine, will co-host Euro 2012, have never reached the European finals, but despite the loss they remain clear at the top as Portugal and Serbia, both on 14, did not play. Finland also moved on to 14 points after beating Belgium 2-0 in Helsinki.

France stayed top of Group B with a 1-0 win over Georgia with Samir Nasri scoring his first international goal. France remain two points clear of world champions Italy and their next game features a re-match of the World Cup final on September 8.

Scotland moved on to 15 points in the same group with a 2-0 win in the Faroe Islands.

Greece needed a stoppage-time goal from substitute Nikos Liberopoulos to secure all three points in their Group C match against Moldova.

They moved five points clear of Turkey, who did not play, Bosnia, who beat Malta 1-0 and Norway, who beat Hungary 4-0.
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Champions Greece lead parade of group leaders(Over)
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